A key, unseen strength that could help the Patriots down the stretch


Matthew Slater has obviously been around some great teams and great groups of teammates during 15 seasons in New England.

But never has the Pro Bowl special teamer and longtime team captain enjoyed a season with the guys around him in the Gillette Stadium locker room as much as he has with the 2022 Patriots.

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Sure the team is 5-4 at the bye week, a fringe playoff contender with a difficult stretch of games left to be played. There are plenty of questions left to be answered over the final eight games of the season.

But according to Slater, one area of the Patriots that’s already proven itself is the team bond that’s taken hold for the latest New England squad.

“I think it has excellent chemistry,” Slater said of the current Patriots team during his weekly Monday night interview on “Mut at Night” on WEEI. “I’ve enjoyed being a part of this team as much as any I’ve been on. I think we have a good mixture of old crotchety guys like myself and young guys that can go out there and laugh and have a good time and just keep a smile on everybody’s face. That’s a good balance. It’s been so fun to be around these young guys, it’s given me just a lot of joy.

“So I think we have great chemistry on this team. I think we enjoy one another. We enjoy being around one another. And hopefully that’s going to bode well for us down the stretch.”

Therein lies the rub. It’s great to have great chemistry, but can that contributed to success and on-field results? Are winning and team chemistry tied together at all?

“That’s a great question, almost a chicken-or-the-egg question, right? I do believe that chemistry counts for a great deal,” Slater told WEEI. “And there is no way to quantify it, right? You can’t go out and measure it and objectively quantify chemistry. But in my experience with the teams that we’ve had here that have had great success, I do think that chemistry, togetherness, brotherhood, selflessness, those things really gave us an edge.
And I think they helped us get over the hump in a lot of cases. But then also it’s easier to get that buy-in when you are winning. You get additional buy-in from everyone. I think that’s just human nature. So I like to believe that it’s chemistry first that can get you the wins but winning doesn’t hurt.”

If the Patriots indeed have the team chemistry that Slater believes then maybe that could be a contributing factor for a New England team with plenty of work to be done to finish out the season with a playoff-worthy record. That process begins on Sunday against the rival Jets at Gillette Stadium, a team New England has beaten 13 straight times. Extending that streak to 14 – which would be the Patriots’ third win in a row this season – combined with the positive team chemistry Slater speaks of could be a momentum boon to kick off the second half of the season.

“Winning covers a multitude of sins,” Slater said. “I’ve always said that. There can be a lot of things wrong with your culture, there can be a lot of things wrong with several different areas of your organization but if you win it’s all good. So winning covers a lot. I’m not saying that’s the answer, to just win. I’m not Al Davis, but it does cover a lot.”

And winning combined with “excellent” team chemistry could do even more.

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